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Goble D.D.,The College of Idaho | Wiens J.A.,Point Reyes Bird Observatory Conservation Science | Wiens J.A.,University of Western Australia | Scott J.M.,University of Idaho | And 2 more authors.
BioScience | Year: 2012

A species is conservation reliant when the threats that it faces cannot be eliminated, but only managed. There are two forms of conservation reliance: population- and threat-management reliance. We provide an overview of the concept and introduce a series of articles that examine it in the context of a range of taxa, threats, and habitats. If sufficient assurances can be provided that successful population and threat management will continue, conservation-reliant species may be either delisted or kept off the endangered species list. This may be advantageous because unlisted species provide more opportunities for a broader spectrum of federal, state, tribal, and private interests to participate in conservation. Even for currently listed species, the number of conservation-reliant species-84% of endangered and threatened species with recovery plans- and the magnitude of management actions needed to sustain the species at recovered levels raise questions about society's willingness to support necessary action. © 2012 by American Institute of Biological Sciences. All rights reserved.

Fleishman E.,University of California at Santa Barbara | Fleishman E.,University of California at Davis | Blockstein D.E.,Council of Environmental Deans and Directors | Hall J.A.,Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program | And 29 more authors.
BioScience | Year: 2011

To maximize the utility of research to decisionmaking, especially given limited financial resources, scientists must set priorities for their efforts. We present a list of the top 40 high-priority, multidisciplinary research questions directed toward informing some of the most important current and future decisions about management of species, communities, and ecological processes in the United States. The questions were generated by an open, inclusive process that included personal interviews with decisionmakers, broad solicitation of research needs from scientists and policymakers, and an intensive workshop that included scientifically oriented individuals responsible for managing and developing policy related to natural resources. The process differed from previous efforts to set priorities for conservation research in its focus on the engagement of decisionmakers in addition to researchers. The research priorities emphasized the importance of addressing societal context and exploration of trade-offs among alternative policies and actions, as well as more traditional questions related to ecological processes and functions. © 2011 by American Institute of Biological Sciences. All rights reserved.

Weaver C.P.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency | Lempert R.J.,The RAND Corporation | Brown C.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Hall J.A.,Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program | And 2 more authors.
Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change | Year: 2013

In this paper, we review the need for, use of, and demands on climate modeling to support so-called 'robust' decision frameworks, in the context of improving the contribution of climate information to effective decision making. Such frameworks seek to identify policy vulnerabilities under deep uncertainty about the future and propose strategies for minimizing regret in the event of broken assumptions. We argue that currently there is a severe underutilization of climate models as tools for supporting decision making, and that this is slowing progress in developing informed adaptation and mitigation responses to climate change. This underutilization stems from two root causes, about which there is a growing body of literature: one, a widespread, but limiting, conception that the usefulness of climate models in planning begins and ends with regional-scale predictions of multidecadal climate change; two, the general failure so far to incorporate learning from the decision and social sciences into climate-related decision support in key sectors. We further argue that addressing these root causes will require expanding the conception of climate models; not simply as prediction machines within 'predict-then-act' decision frameworks, but as scenario generators, sources of insight into complex system behavior, and aids to critical thinking within robust decision frameworks. Such a shift, however, would have implications for how users perceive and use information from climate models and, ultimately, the types of information they will demand from these models-and thus for the types of simulations and numerical experiments that will have the most value for informing decision making. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Hall J.A.,Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program | Fleishman E.,National Center for Ecological Analysis And Synthesis
Conservation Biology | Year: 2010

To be relevant to societal interests and needs, conservation science must explicitly lend itself to solving real-world problems. Failure to evaluate under field conditions how a new technology or method performs or the cost of its implementation can prevent its acceptance by end users. Demonstration, defined here as the translation of scientific understanding into metrics of performance and cost of implementation under real-world conditions, is a logical step in the challenging progression from fundamental research to application. Demonstration reduces scientific uncertainty and validates the hypothesis that a management approach is both effective and financially sustainable. Much like adaptive management, demonstration enables researchers and resource managers to avoid trial-and-error approaches and instead conduct unbiased assessment of management interventions. The participation of end users and regulators in the development and execution of demonstration projects ensures that performance measures are credible and increases the probability that successful innovations will be adopted. Four actions might better connect science to the needs of resource managers via demonstration. First, we recommend that demonstration be conducted as a formal process that documents successes and failures. Second, demonstration should be budgeted as an integral component of government agencies' science programs and executed as a partnership between researchers and managers. Third, public and private funders should increase the opportunities and incentives for academics to engage in demonstration. Fourth, social influences on adoption of new technologies and methods should be further explored. When end users can evaluate explicitly whether a new approach is likely to achieve management objectives, save money, and reduce risk under uncertainty, the professional community successfully has bridged a chasm between research and application. © Journal compilation. © 2009 Society for Conservation Biology.

The advance could be an important new step in the effort to satisfy the world's need for clean water for drinking, irrigation and recreational use. Current methods require multiple steps and involve chemicals that react to heat, sunlight or electricity. Scientists previously had shown that polluted water could be cleaned using enzymatic activities of naturally occurring bacteria and fungi, which breaks down pollutants into their harmless chemical components. But that method carries the risk of releasing dangerous organisms into the water. The new UCLA technique, developed by a team led by Shaily Mahendra, a UCLA associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Leonard Rome, a professor of biological chemistry and associate director of CNSI, is a variation of that method. The researchers put enzymes into nanoscale particles called "vaults," then deposit the tiny particles into polluted water. Their method is described in an article published in ACS Nano. Mahendra said microbial processes in water that are part of the natural system of biodegradation would eventually break down pollution in our water, but only over a very long period. "Natural microbes are why the world isn't still covered with dinosaur droppings," Mahendra said. "But we don't have the time or room on our planet to ignore contaminated lakes and rivers for a couple of million years while nature does the work." Nanoscale vaults are tiny particles—just billionths of a meter across—that are shaped like beer kegs. Mahendra said the new method is effective because the vaults protect the enzymes, keeping them intact and potent when placed in the contaminated water. The scientists tested the method using an enzyme called manganese peroxidase. They found that over a 24-hour period the vaults removed three times as much phenol from the water as the enzyme did when it was dropped into the water without using vaults. They also discovered that because the manganese peroxidase remained stable inside of the vaults, it was still able to remove phenol from the water after 48 hours. Free manganese peroxide was completely inactive after 7 1/2 hours. Vault nanoparticles, which are constructed of proteins and are present in the cells of nearly all living things, were discovered by Rome and Nancy Kedersha, his then-postdoctoral student, in the 1980s. Each human cell contains thousands of vaults, which themselves contain other proteins. But Rome and his colleagues eventually devised a method for building empty vaults that could be used to deliver drugs to specific cells the body to fight cancer, HIV and other diseases. The research contributes to the goals of UCLA's Sustainable L.A. Grand Challenge, a campuswide initiative to transition the Los Angeles region to 100 percent renewable energy, local water and enhanced ecosystem health by 2050. Mahendra is also helping develop the work plan for Sustainable L.A. Mahendra said the new technique could be scaled up within a few years for commercial use in polluted lakes and rivers, and vaults could be added to membrane filtration units and easily incorporated into existing water treatment systems. Vaults containing several different biodegrading enzymes could potentially remove several contaminants at once from the same water source. They would be unlikely to pose risks to humans or the environment, Rome said, because vaults grow in the cells of so many species. The vaults containing manganese peroxidase used for the new study were built by a team led by Valerie Kickhoefer, an associate researcher working with Rome. Also contributing to the study were first author Meng Wang, a graduate student in Mahendra's lab, and UCLA staff research associate Danny Abad. Electron microscopy for the study was conducted in CNSI's Electron Imaging Center for Nanomachines. The research was supported by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (award ER-2422) and the UCLA department of civil and environmental engineering. Explore further: Researchers design unique method to induce immunity to certain STDs More information: Meng Wang et al. Vault Nanoparticles Packaged with Enzymes as an Efficient Pollutant Biodegradation Technology, ACS Nano (2015). DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b04073

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